Italian giant Sisal SPA surprised the industry with its ‘late bid’ to compete in the UK government’s Fourth National Lottery Competition, which opened for tenders last summer. Speaking to SBC, Marco Caccavale, Sisal International Managing Director outlines the Italian suitor’s bid against high-profile competitors.
Having won back-to-back tenders to operate Turkey and Morroco’s national lotteries, Caccavale underlines Sisal’s credentials as the most capable steward to match the National Lottery’s new generational challenges.
SBC: Hi Marco thanks for this interview. The UKGC issued its procurement for National Lottery suitors back in 2020… Why are SISAL late to join the bidding party?
Marco Caccavale (International Managing Director Sisal): Contrary to what has been reported. Sisal has been interested in the Fourth National Lottery competition since the onset. In fact, Sisal has been in contact with the GC since it started its conversations with interested parties back in 2019. We have spent the time carefully analysing and evaluating the market in order to maximise the potential for the National Lottery meaning that we are communicating when we have all we need to prepare our proposal and present the offer.
SBC: You are joining a fiercely competitive field. What are SISAL’s core strengths against 30-year incumbent Camelot and deep-pocketed Czech suitor SAZKA?
MC: We believe we can win and are a serious contender for the bid. Let’s not forget that in the last three tender responses we have gone against world-leading companies and won, including those in the bid for the National Lottery. We are an experienced operator who is committing to delivering billions for Good Causes.
Not only this but we will bring a new standard of responsibility that will improve the National Lottery for all. Our bid is bold and ambitious because we feel that is what the UK public expect and should demand of any operator.
Our core strengths are – a strong responsible gambling approach, 75 years of experience in managing gambling, lottery innovations, digital leadership in a fiercely competitive market as the Italian one, in-house ITC enabling Sisal to have both state of the art technology and freedom from others the dependency on other vendors.
SBC: Can you detail how the UK National Lottery fundamentally differs from other European lotteries (draw, format, rules, fundraising, coverage etc)?
MC: The National Lottery is one of the largest lottery among the European ones, with more than 8Bln£ of turnover and c. 30mln customers. Yet, what makes TNL unique is its direct funding of Good Causes: since its creation, it has supported more than 625K projects with c. 42Bln£ across the UK.
SBC: The UKGC has stated that ‘innovation’ will be a key element of the tender process. A broad remit, however, which exact lottery components do you feel need to be revitalised?
MC: You are definitely right. In Sisal we believe in the importance of constantly and promptly innovating the product portfolio. As an example, we launched SetforLife back in 2009, 10 years before the UK version. We are also extremely experienced in successfully innovating iconic gaming brands, as we did both in Italy and Turkey with their largest jackpot game.
In fact, innovation is a broad remit but it’s also true that many areas should be revitalized. To name a few, customers have profoundly changed and a paper payslips are no longer the preferred option. Thus, in a concession that ends in 2034, the entire customer journey will forcibly need to be innovated.
SBC: More importantly, how will SISAL’s stewardship revive retail engagement with National Lottery products, as all shops return to normal trading?
As lockdown eases, retailers will continue to be a key channel and boundaries between retail premises and digital channels will be blurrier than before, as customers will demand an omnichannel experience even within the PoS physical premises.
SBC: What role will charity Barnardo’s play in how your bid is structured and executed?
MC: Barnardo’s will be an active partner in our bid, sitting on the Board and supporting in defining the direction on responsible gambling, CSR as well as in better understanding the needs of Good Causes. Distributors and charities as well as providing us with the insight that comes from their extensive retail footprint.
SBC: The National Lottery tender coincides with the government’s generational review of the UK’s gambling laws. Will the review’s critical proceedings factor in how the bid is won?
MC: We can’t speak for the Gambling Commission. Undoubtedly, Sisal firmly believes in the importance of raising the standards on responsible gambling across the entire industry.
SBC: Finally what are the generational product and consumer challenges facing lottery – and why is SISAL the best steward to navigate the National Lottery through these changes?
MC: Maintain relevance among customers, in particular among young adults. Our experience has shown us that the challenge can be met by designing both products and experiences that are centred on customers, and not customers as an indistinct mass, but rather as clearly defined clusters of customers with their own aspirations, needs and expectations. Our experience has also shown us how to maintain interest and excitement in our products by evolving them to reflect changing tastes and expectations of players. It is not enough to launch new games but also to renew the historical ones.